AI Taskforce Head Acknowledges Inevitable Automation of Jobs, Calls for Rethinking Workforce


  • Ian Hogarth believes that more jobs will be automated as AI systems advance, necessitating a rethinking of work globally.
  • The taskforce aims to understand the risks of AI and hold companies accountable while capturing the benefits, particularly in healthcare.
  • Challenges faced by UK start-ups include a lack of hardware access, expertise, and funding, hindering their growth in the AI sector.

Ian Hogarth, the newly appointed head of the government’s new AI Taskforce, has highlighted the inevitability of more jobs being automated as artificial intelligence systems advance. Hogarth stressed the importance of rethinking how people work globally, acknowledging that winners and losers will emerge based on job distribution resulting from AI implementation. While some argue that AI will create new jobs as the internet did, others express concerns about job losses. Hogarth aims to assist the government in understanding the risks associated with AI and holding companies accountable while also capturing the benefits that these technologies offer.

Reports have already surfaced regarding significant job losses due to companies opting for AI tools over human employees. For instance, BT recently announced plans to reduce its workforce by around 10,000 employees by the end of the decade due to technological advancements. However, proponents of AI believe that it will also generate a wave of new job opportunities, similar to the rise of the internet.

Addressing risks and accountability

Ian Hogarth’s role in the AI Foundation Model taskforce involves helping the government comprehend the potential risks associated with frontier AI systems and ensuring accountability among companies utilizing these technologies. He expresses concern about the potential negative consequences of AI, such as wrongful arrests in law enforcement or the creation of malicious computer code leading to increased cybercrime. Despite conflicting opinions within the AI community regarding the existential threat posed by AI, Hogarth recognizes the importance of expert warnings. However, he also emphasizes the need to avoid overlooking the benefits of AI.

Hogarth’s appointment has been well received by the UK tech industry. James Clough co-founder and CTO Robin AI, a London-based startup, said that Hogarth is a “great choice for chair” and “deeply understands the underlying technology behind AI”.

His background as a founder and now prolific investor demonstrates his ability to build effective organisations, and to identify talent and technological trends, which is exactly the skillset needed as chair of this taskforce.

James Clough, Robin AI Co-Founder

A leading authority on AI, Ian has co-authored the annual State of AI report since 2018 on the progress of AI. Ian, a visiting professor at University College London, has a strong background in tech entrepreneurship as the founder of the start-up Songkick and the venture capital fund Plural. The appointment brings a wealth of experience to developing AI technology responsibly, which underpins the government’s AI strategy and follows the launch of the AI White Paper. Ian’s strong entrepreneurship experience and insider connections in the AI sector will hopefully equip him with valuable insights into this role.

AI in healthcare and research

Hogarth highlights the significant contributions of AI tools in the healthcare sector. These technologies aid in identifying new antibiotics, assisting individuals with brain damage in regaining movement, and detecting early symptoms of diseases. As an example, Hogarth mentions a tool he developed that could identify signs of breast cancer in scans. The taskforce has been allocated an initial £100 million to oversee AI safety research.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has prioritized AI and aims to establish the UK as a global hub for the sector. OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, has announced that its first international office will be in London, while Palantir, a data firm, plans to open headquarters in the city. However, the UK faces challenges in positioning itself as a key player in the rapidly evolving AI field.

Challenges faced by UK start-ups

Emma McClenaghan, co-founder of a Northern Ireland-based AI start-up, discusses the difficulties her company faces in accessing GPUs for further product development. McClenaghan mentions the lack of hardware access, expertise, and funding as challenges for UK start-ups. She points out that while her company had to wait five months for a grant to purchase a single GPU, Elon Musk reportedly acquired 10,000 GPUs in the US. McClenaghan expresses the belief that the best outcome for her firm would be acquisition by a US tech giant, a sentiment shared by many UK start-ups.

Hogarth suggests that one solution to the GPU access issue could involve integrating them into national infrastructure, similar to road networks or electricity cables. This approach would prevent GPUs from being predominantly acquired by companies with greater financial resources. Hogarth envisions a future where nation-states play a role in directing critical AI infrastructure, viewing it as a fundamental building block for the next generation of innovation.

Ian Hogarth, the head of the government’s AI task force, acknowledges the inevitability of job automation due to AI advancements. While the impact on jobs is a global concern, Hogarth aims to help the government understand the risks associated with AI and ensure companies are held accountable. He emphasizes the importance of not overlooking the benefits of AI, particularly in healthcare. Despite challenges, such as the UK’s positioning as an AI hub and the struggles faced by start-ups, Hogarth remains optimistic about the UK’s potential to lead in the AI revolution.

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Glory Kaburu

Glory is an extremely knowledgeable journalist proficient with AI tools and research. She is passionate about AI and has authored several articles on the subject. She keeps herself abreast of the latest developments in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning and writes about them regularly.

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